Ten points for a restorative blueprint
1. Responsibility for preventing crime and conflict, and responding to it when it occurs, lies both with every individual and with the community in which they have to live their lives.
2. This includes responsibility to provide the services and programmes described below. The cost of providing them should be met by the reduction of the number of prisons, and a mechanism should be in place to transfer the cost.
3. The community also has a responsibility to provide support for victims of crime.
4. Whenever appropriate, the response to harm and conflict should include a facilitated meeting between those harmed and those responsible, subject to the consent of both. The meeting is not only to consider the response but is itself part of the response.
5. A network of local organisations should be established, to recruit, train, support and supervise facilitators, who would work on a voluntary basis. They would also educate the public in restorative (participatory) decision-making and conflict resolution.
6. Feedback would be incorporated into the system: when the facilitators became aware of pressures towards conflict and crime, they would draw these to the attention of those responsible for local and national social policy.
7. For those forms of harm which the law has defined as crimes, and for which it is considered necessary to use the criminal justice process, the purposes of sentencing would be dealt with separately: reducing the likelihood that the person will offend again, making reparation to the victim or the community, declaring the seriousness of the crime, and protecting the public.
(1 ) The primary purpose of sentencing would be to require the offender to undergo a programme to make them aware of why their action was wrong, and makes them less likely to repeat it, for example: for road traffic offences, a course on driving and road safety; for addiction, therapy; for violence, anger management; for lack of work skills, education and training; for financial misconduct, a course of business ethics.
(2 ) To make reparation to the victim and/or the community, including co-operation with a programme such as the above.
(3 ) To declare the seriousness of the offence, by the period of time for which the offender must be kept under supervision, fulfilling the above requirements and reporting regularly, by means of a community order (for less serious offences) or a suspended prison sentence (for the more serious). The period would be comparable to a ‘Richter scale’, proportionate to the seriousness, but could extend beyond the time required to meet the requirements.
(4 ) If there is a serious risk that the person will commit further serious offences or abscond, the prison sentence would not be suspended. The prison regime would enable the primary and secondary purposes (above) to be carried out and provide, for those who need it, a place of hope and transformation.
8. For serious offenders when a prison sentence was unavoidable, one way of making reparation would be to co-operate with research into the origins of their behaviour (such as sexual abuse, violent extremism, or financial wrongdoing by the already-wealthy) with a view to feedback into preventive policies (6. above).
9. The purpose of these measures is not punishment for its own sake, although they do constitute a deprivation of liberty.
10. Insofar as criminal justice aims to deter people from offending, the deterrence lies in the probability of being caught. The focus of policies to reduce crime will not lie with criminal justice but with physical measures such as locks, alarms, PIN numbers and supervision, and with creating a culture in which there are higher expectations of law-abiding behaviour and fewer pressures towards crime.